The Ministry of Housing, Land and Urban Development finds itself embroiled in controversy following media reports suggesting it has decided to annul the flat allocation list of the ‘Gedhoruveriya’ social housing scheme, a legacy of the previous administration. The ministry has categorically refuted these claims, asserting its commitment to ensuring the rightful allocation of flats.

The Anti-Corruption Commission (ACC) initiated an investigation in November 2023 in response to public grievances about the allocation of flats. The ACC’s findings revealed that approximately 60 percent of the recipients, finalised by the previous administration’s housing ministry, were ineligible based on the established criteria. Despite the eligibility of the applicants, the ACC identified discrepancies in 19.7 percent of the flat application forms, leading to a suspension of the handover of flats.

Mohamed Faiz, the Minister of State for Housing, clarified the ministry’s stance to a local media outlet: “The recent statement does not suggest a revocation of the flat allocation list [established by the previous administration]. Our actions are being guided by the advice of the AG [Attorney General].”

The news triggered a social media storm, culminating in a campaign under the banner ‘No Flat, No Verikan [Government]’ demanding an expedited handover of the flats. Some social media users also shared video clips of President Mohamed Muizzu, assuring that the flats would be handed over to the rightful recipients in the lists published by the previous administration.

“If an individual’s name appears on any government-gazetted list, they are entitled to receive them [flats and land plots]. The absence of an award letter or deeds [for the flats or land plots] is a separate issue. If an individual’s name is included on a final list gazetted by the government, it signifies a governmental decision. Upon such a decision, the individual will receive them [flats and land plots],” stated Muizzu on 5 December.

Dr Ali Haidar Ahmed, the housing minister, revealed last week that the ministry is working to hand over flats to the eligible candidates as soon as possible. These qualified candidates, according to him, are those on the list provided by the ACC. The commission had also requested that the ministry proceed with the handover of the flat to those eligible candidates, which Ahmed said, the ministry will do after seeking legal counsel.

The ACC’s probe into the evaluation of applications under the Gedhoruveriya scheme has drawn the ire of the public and parliamentarians over its perceived “interference” in the allocation of the flats. A resolution submitted to parliament by Eva Abdulla, the Member of Parliament (MP) for North Galholhu, called for the immediate alleviation of the difficulties faced by the recipients, many of whom live under dire conditions, by handing over the flats to the eligible recipients as soon as possible.

The ACC’s involvement has also been questioned by experts, who have pointed out that the Audit Act assigns the responsibility of conducting performance audits to the Auditor General’s Office. They have challenged the legality of the ACC’s interference with the flat list, labelling it an act of “corruption.”